Learn to love yourself

Learn to love yourself, say the experts. You know it’s true, but it’s just one of those lessons that keeps tripping you up. Find out what’s holding you back and watch as your capacity to love grows and grows.

The idea of loving yourself is a popular one, but do you practise it in your everyday life? What stops you from putting all you know about self-care, self-acceptance and self-love into action? Why is it that when the demands, expectations and pressures of the day come along, your needs and desires are the ones that end up being pushed aside?

Every day, you have the option to love yourself by choosing thoughts, words and actions that serve you. But how often do you sell out on yourself and settle for less than you deserve? Do you:

  1. Spend time with people who drain you or make you feel bad about yourself?
  2. Let fear prevent you from pursuing what you love?
  3. Compare yourself with other people and put yourself down?
  4. Keep quiet when someone over-steps your boundaries?
  5. Push yourself to keep going when you’re unwell?
  6. Fill your day with activities that take you away from your true priorities?
  7. Let the opinions and expectations of other people determine your choices instead of listening to your heart?

No matter how hard you try to justify your actions, deep down you know when you’re not being there for yourself the way you need to be. Self-love is an appealing concept, but it takes a great deal of courage to put it into practice. It’s not easy to say no, to follow your heart, to speak up, to claim what you want. In fact, choosing to love yourself may be one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do. But it is worth it and so are you.

When you commit to yourself, when you give yourself all the love and support you need, when you have the courage to be who you are and take care of yourself, you create an authentic, soulful, fulfilling life.

If loving yourself was your number one priority today, what would you do differently? What would you no longer tolerate? Who would you stop spending time with? Which interest or passion would you make time for? Who would you say no to? What changes would you make immediately?

Read through the seven blocks below to identify what has been stopping you from putting the concept of self-love into practice. When you tell yourself the truth you open the doorway to positive change. Ask yourself what you could do to love yourself more in your everyday life.

7 Blocks to self-love

1. A belief in self-sacrifice

If you were brought up to put others first you may have inherited a belief in self-sacrifice. Perhaps you believe it’s bad to think about yourself and what you want. If so, you probably live your life trying to be good and do the right thing without stopping to ask if what you’re doing is good and right for you. Until you let go of your belief in self-sacrifice, you’ll find it difficult to put the concept of self-love into practice.

It is good give of yourself, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your wellbeing to do so. You don’t have to stop loving yourself to love others. It’s not wrong to love and care for yourself. It’s not wrong to put yourself first sometimes. It’s not wrong to consider what you want. You have a responsibility to look after you. Give up your self-defeating beliefs and give yourself the same kind of love and support you so willingly give to others.

2. Unclear priorities and daily intentions

When you’re not clear about your needs and true desires it’s easy to get caught up, distracted and busy with other things. There will be people who want you to do things for them. There will be interesting opportunities and invitations coming your way. There will be someone in need that could use your help.

Knowing what your dreams and priorities are makes it easier to know when to say yes and when to say no to the things that come up in life. There are only so many hours in a day so it’s up to you to make sure that how you spend your time and the choices you make reflect and support your highest intentions. If you haven’t been putting yourself and the things that really matter to you first in your daily life, then something else has been getting priority. What is it?

  • Other people’s problems?
  • A demanding boss or stressful job?
  • Family/relationship issues?
  • An overscheduled family timetable?
  • TV, phone calls, shopping, surfing the net, reading?
  • Housework/jobs?
  • Commitments to organisations and groups?
  • Someone else’s dream?
  • Meeting the demands and expectations of your partner, children, family, friends, workplace or community groups?

Know what’s important to you. Know what you’re committed to each day. Don’t wait and see what shows up. Start each day with clear intentions and, as new situations arise, check in with your heart for guidance.

Identify the things that are essential to your health, happiness and wellbeing and make them part of your daily routine. Live each day purposefully, making choices that reflect and honour your true, heartfelt priorities.

3. Helping others instead of yourself

Is it possible that you help other people instead of helping yourself? Do you rush in to solve the dramas and problems of everyone around you and have no energy left for yourself? Helping other people can be a way to avoid taking charge of your own life. While you’re busy helping others, you don’t have to do the hard work of helping yourself. Everyone has needs, problems, dreams and desires. Your job is to support yourself in meeting and achieving yours. Of course, you can help and support other people, but not instead of helping yourself.

There are things that inspire you and make your soul sing. There are things you long to do and share with the world. There are areas of your life that need healing and attention. There are parts of you that are not fully expressed yet. Loving yourself means giving time and energy to your life. Self-love includes paying attention to who you are, to what you need and to what you long to create and contribute. Be completely honest with yourself and look to see if you might be helping others instead of nurturing yourself and working on your own life.

4. Feeling guilty

If you’ve spent most of your life doing things for other people it may feel strange and even wrong to do things for yourself. Do it, anyway. Whenever you feel guilty, remind yourself that it’s OK to take care of yourself and it’s OK to enjoy your life. Refuse to let obligations and feelings of guilt stop you from giving yourself the love, support and attention you deserve.

Be aware that there may be people in your life who feel resistant and threatened by your commitment to love yourself. Some may even play on your feelings of guilt to try to make you do what they want or go back to the way you were. Stay strong. The more you experience the benefits of loving and taking care of yourself, the better you’ll get at resisting external pressure and managing feelings of guilt. Meanwhile, decide what you’re going to do to love yourself today, then feel the guilt and do it, anyway.

5. Thinking like a victim

Do you blame others, complain or make excuses for the way things are in your life? Are you failing to see how your own actions contribute to the results you’re getting? How often do you say things like, “I can’t, it’s not my fault, I don’t have a choice, there’s nothing I can do, it’s too late, they won’t listen, I have to…” Pointing the finger at others, feeling sorry for yourself and focusing on how helpless things are keep you stuck.

If you want to create positive change, you need to take your attention off everyone else and turn it back onto you. Ask yourself what you could do differently to change things. Think about what you could start or stop doing to create the love, joy and respect you desire in your life. You can’t change other people, but you can change the way you respond to them. If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting in life, stop being a victim, take charge and make some changes. Focus on what you can do today to love, protect and support yourself.

6. Not wanting to be selfish

Are there people in your life who will think you’re selfish if you practise self-love? Does the need to have people think you’re a good person stop you from doing things for yourself?

There will be some people who think you’re selfish because from their perspective and according to their values, you are. People who believe in keeping up appearances, playing traditional roles, doing “the right thing” and pleasing others will see your choices as selfish. Rather than resist this, feel bad about it or question your commitment to self-love, accept that we’re all different and entitled to our own values — just because you choose a path of self-love doesn’t mean everyone else has to or that they have to approve of your choice to do so. Rather than attempt to defend yourself or make other people wrong, turn your attention inward and check that you’re living true to what is right for you.
It’s not a matter of whether people think you’re selfish but whether you are willing to love yourself regardless of what other people think.

7. People pleasing

It’s almost impossible to practise self-love when your life revolves around keeping everyone else happy. When you’re a people pleaser you need the approval of others to feel OK about yourself, so you focus more on pleasing others than you do on loving yourself. What other people think of you is more important than what you think of you. What other people want is more important than what you want. What other people feel about you determines how you feel about you. There’s no way you can people please and love yourself at the same time.

You have to make a choice. Are you going to live for others and be who they want you to be or are you going to love yourself enough to be who you really are? One way to start shifting things is to turn your attention inward and tell yourself the truth about what you feel. Whenever you’re faced with a choice always ask, “What do I want? What would I like? What feels right for me?” Don’t make decisions without checking in with your feelings and asking yourself if the choice you’re about to make is pleasing to you.

Do you sense there is more for you to do in this life? Is there a greater version of yourself waiting to be expressed? Does your creative spirit long to be set free? The way to become and share the very best of who you are is to love yourself unconditionally. Loving yourself is the first step to making a positive contribution in the world. Start telling yourself the truth about where and why you’re not loving yourself the way you could be. Admit where you’re letting yourself down and where you haven’t been giving yourself the support you need.

You’ve been given this life to be and do all that your heart desires. Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Decide today to stop looking to other people to give you the love, acceptance and approval you need and start giving it to yourself. Love yourself as you are. Embrace the good and the bad, the light and the dark. Choose to love the real you.

This is your life. Don’t wait for something or someone else to make it better. You are the one who knows what you truly need and what your heart longs for. You are the one who knows what your spirit loves and which path is right for you. Have the courage to step up on your own behalf. Make a commitment to consider your own needs and desires. Listen to your heart and make choices that serve your body, mind and spirit.

Don’t let anyone or anything stand between you and your relationship with yourself. Cherish yourself, be kind to yourself, believe in yourself. Step up and make self-love a priority in your everyday life.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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